From the early 20th century, Chinese women started to enjoy new freedoms and new educational and career opportunities. Such changes are reflected in the “liberalisation” of fashion where formerly bulky and shapeless garments were discarded in favour of form-fitting garments. Since Singapore’s establishment as a British trading post in the early 19th century, its position as a port city allowed exposure to powerful cultural dynamics in the multiracial communities and networks. In the Chinese communities, while women followed the trends in China, they also drew inspiration from the West in their dressing: certain aspects of modernity imported from the West such as bobbed hair, skirt above the knees, high-heeled shoes were also favourites of the time. They adopted western ideologies and strove to become independent to fight for their rights.
This exhibition showcases over 90 artefacts and archival photographs from China and Singapore from the late 1800s to 1970s, a period when women’s roles and lifestyles saw the most drastic changes. The exhibition attempts, as well, to interpret the concept of "the Modern Woman" against the backdrop of historical milestones of each period.